One of the great appeals to writing historical fiction is in making ancient and distant lands come alive. There is mystery in that which is ancient and adventure in that which is distant. A sense of wistfulness also envelops distant lands. As the proverbial saying goes, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the hill”. We seek that which is far away for our adventures, exploring new places and learning about them. Historical Fiction brings the “greener grass” into our imaginations. It allows us to envision places away from our homeland that still exist today but brings them to life inside of different cultures. We wish to know how our ancestors lived and spoke – how they viewed society within their lifespan. To bring to life that which is ancient kindles the imagination. The more we learn about the past, the greater our imagination grows. Mystery turns into fascination and appreciation of a culture and society as we explore more about a certain time-period. We travel these stories across seas and continents, finding adventure in the unknown or that which is less frequently traveled in our normal life’s routine.
However, the best historical fiction stories are those which mix the mystery and adventure of ancient and distant lands with the daily and normal routine of the characters. Stories must be relatable at some fundamental level. Characters who never eat or sleep are too bland and nonhuman to follow. We wish to know what sort of refreshment our characters take along their journey so that we can find that same refreshment. We need to know what sorts of houses they live in so that when the adventure comes, we know why it is an adventure for them. Ultimately, we need to see how they live their lives within the historical and cultural context of their time so that we can be drawn into an understandable story. The more we understand about the culture of the story’s characters, the more appreciation we have of the story itself.
Your fellow writer,
Joshua A. Reynolds, Proprietor